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If Low-Skill Immigrants Don’t Compete With Working-Class Americans, Robots Will


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thefederalist.comThe Federalist:

The way Donald Trump talks about immigration and the economy, you’d think we’re being overrun by illegal immigrants from Mexico and that we’re still in the throes of the Great Recession.


But we’re not. Illegal immigration peaked in 2007 and has been slowly declining since then. Although we’ve had a sluggish economic recovery under the Obama administration, unemployment is down and income is up. Things are not as bad as Trump says they are.


That’s not to say everything is fine. Our immigration system, if you can call it that, is like a Rube Goldberg machine designed by the geniuses who came up with Obamacare. While incomes are rising in the aggregate, parts of the country where manufacturing jobs once provided a stable middle-class income to blue-collar workers are now ghost towns ravaged by opioids and heroin. For people feeling the brunt of these troubles, Trump’s tale of decline resonates. When he says our political leaders are stupid and corrupt and don’t care about working Americans, plenty of working Americans agree.

But while he’s stoking these resentments, Trump does something else: he connects anxiety over immigration to particular economic problems of the working class. Not only are evil corporations moving manufacturing jobs to Mexico and China, but wily immigrants are pouring across the border and stealing American jobs. They win, we lose.


Immigration As a Scapegoat


It’s a tidy narrative, and obviously there’s an audience for this sort of thing. But it bears little semblance to reality. The laid-off steelworker in Ohio or Alabama might be forgiven for agreeing with Trump that the nexus of immigration and global trade robbed him of his livelihood. What’s harder to understand is why policy experts agree.Scissors-32x32.png

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